Monday, 25 August 2008

And now for something completely different!

Old habits die hard, I wasn't always a laid back smallholder, happily married and living the Good Life dream.

There was a time when I was a standard issue biker and I still have some links to that past, some really old friends still call me by my nickname Speed, and my taste in music does tend to favour the type that features distorted guitars, fast drum beats and incomprehensible lyrics.

I have been lucky enough to have seen some of the best rock bands in the world, my initiation to rock concerts started in 1979 with Queen, but I have seen acts like Pink Floyd, Saxon, Status Quo to more modern stuff like Incubus, Feeder and Ash. Too many to list. Then there are festivals of rock like one held at Milton Keynes in the 80's where I remember a Welsh Bike Gang started a huge fight because the crowd didn't show Gary Glitter the respect they felt he deserved.

Wonder what they think of him now?

This weekend was Reading Festival, a huge event attended by thousands who brave primitive conditions to pay homage to their small gods of music. Like most memories of past events the bad stuff is reframed and you are left with the good. So when Tracey offered me a ticket for my birthday for this Sunday at Reading where Metallica were headlining I jumped at the chance.

I had forgotten how bad 110,000 unwashed campers can smell, how appalling the toilets are, how creatively the event organisers shaft their punters by selling them food and drink for outrageous money in the show village shops before you get to the main entrance and find any food and drink you have just bought is not allowed in. The gates were crammed with people hastily downing expensive alcohol watched by bad tempered security staff. Inside you find the same drinks on sale in the same paper cups sold by the same franchise as outside. Burgers cost over six pounds, chips are cheap at three fifty and of such poisenous quality it would have Jamie Oliver in tears.

The line up changed, the drummer of SlipKnot had a bad ankle and another singer had a poorly throat, not that anyone would have noticed, so we stood in a field for nine hours, watched three acts and waited for Metallica. They made it all worthwhile, an awesome display of lights, pyrotechnics and volume of such intensity it moved your clothing and probably caused internal bleeding. They were so good that they made getting showered by warm liquids of dubious origin that fell from cups and bottles thrown by the crowd seem acceptable.

Finally the concert was over, Beth went back to the riots in the campsite, she is still a hardcore festival goer while Ben and I made our way back to the car and eventually found the motorway heading home.

We were so tired we had to change driving every half hour or so, and after the third stop where we loaded up on energy drinks, ran round in the cold night air to wake our addled brains I contemplated how different life is for me now and how much I prefer my quite life out in the Welsh Hills, where two walkers seen in a month means its busy. Looking at the clock whilst listening to the high pitched whistling in my ears I calculated that at our present speed in Rene we would be home just before four in the morning, a twenty two hour day. Nothing would stop us getting home and nothing would persuade me to leave Rock HQ for the rest of the week.

It was at that point the exhaust fell off Rene.

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